Barnet council fails to follow up on community centre noise complaint

Barnet council has been told to carry out more monitoring of excessive noise at a community centre in the borough following a second investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

A neighbour of the community centre complained the London Borough of Barnet had not taken the action it promised following the Ombudsman’s investigation of his previous complaint of noise nuisance at the site.

The man claims the noise from the community centre was both a statutory nuisance and a breach of the centre’s lease agreement with the council.

The second Ombudsman investigation found that the council did not make any planned visits since its decision on the earlier complaint, despite telling the Ombudsman it would do so. The Ombudsman recognises the council offered planned visits in September 2016 but this was not suitable for the man, and the council did not make any further attempts to undertake planned visits when noisy events were taking place.   

These planned visits were required because the council had identified that the reactive approach was not working as the noise would finish before an officer could attend the site.

The council also failed to keep a record of legal advice it obtained about the lease of the site and the operator’s obligations. The Ombudsman also found the council at fault in how it responded to the man’s complaint.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said:

“This report highlights Barnet council’s failure to do the things it agreed in our earlier investigation.

“People can only have confidence in their local authorities if they deliver on promises and carry out the action they have agreed, so I’m disappointed it has taken further intervention by my office for the matter to be properly pursued by the council.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to pay the man £500 in recognition of the distress and a further £100 in recognition of his time and trouble in bringing the complaint to the Ombudsman again.

The council will also seek fresh legal advice on the procedure to monitor any breaches of the lease at the site, and the standard of evidence required to be satisfied if conditions have been breached and formal action is justified.

It will also make unannounced planned visits to the community centre when events are taking place, and write to the man after each visit. It will then give him a decision on whether there is evidence of a breach of the lease or a statutory noise nuisance, and any further action it intends to take.

Article date: 24 January 2019

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